The Top Five Premier League Summer Signings!

As we approach the January transfer window, I thought I’d take a look back at the summer signings that have made a big impact in the Premier League, so far this season.

Obviously fans will disagree with my some of my choices and moan that I’ve left out one of their stars but I’ve decided not to include more than one buy per club and remember it’s just my opinion, it’s certainly not scientific. I have also tried to spread out the love to various positions on the park.

Spoiler alert: Romelu Lukaku, Alvaro Morata and Alexandre Lacazette didn’t make the list!

Please feel free to use the comments section to suggest anyone that you believe should’ve made the top five signings of the summer.

 

Mohamed Salah

Despite the money spent on the likes of Lukaku, Lacazette and Morata it’s Liverpool’s new forward Mo Salah that’s currently leading the goalscoring charts with thirteen league goals. He has also bagged five goals in six Champions League outings.

The dynamic hitman has scored against Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Merseyside rivals Everton and former side Chelsea. This proves he’s up for the big games and can make an impact too. Salah has also provided his teammates with four assists this term.

The Egyptian international has great pace, is a keen dribbler and loves a curled finish. Usually starts on the right, but can play anywhere in the frontline, and he’ll usually cut inside and put away the chance.

The forward has fitted in seamlessly alongside the other creative talents at Anfield. Philippe Coutinho in particular seems to effortlessly find Mohamed’s runs and provide him with chances to score. It should also be noted that Salah has a great touch and quick feet to skip away from challenges.

Proving to be a real bargain as the match winner only cost Jurgen Klopp £37m!

 

Ederson

The Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson seems to be the missing part of the jigsaw for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.

At twenty-four years of age, the goalie has established himself as the sweeper keeper Pep was desperate for at the Eithad. Good with the ball at his feet and great at rushing out and clearing away any potential danger, he’ll do it even if it endangers his health as it did against Liverpool early in the year.

In seventeen Premier League fixtures, the keeper has an 84% passing success rate and no keeper in England’s top flight has conceded less. He has only conceded eleven in seventeen league appearances.

The City defence looks a lot stronger and more confident with Ederson playing behind them.

Helped Man City record a victory at Old Trafford over neighbours Manchester United, his double save in the second half was sublime!

He joined City from Benfica at a cost of £34.7m. That might be costly for a goalkeeper but it’s a snip for a match winner and he could be the difference that helps Man City to secure the league title.

Harry Maguire 

Harry was one of Hull City’s bright spots last season as the Tigers ultimately suffered relegation from the Premier League.

So it wasn’t too surprising to see the twenty four year old move on this summer and staying in the top division. It was Leicester City who moved extremely quickly to snap up the stepping central defender, signing the player in June.

The centre-back has been an ever present so far and he’s settled in well at the back. Claude Puel has turned the Foxes fortunes around, they are now sitting in eighth spot and Maguire has been influential in that happening.

Strong in the tackle, fantastic in the air (he’s won on average 3.1 headers per game) and he also has great concentration levels. He can also carry the ball well and take it out of the defensive areas.

The defender is also handy in the opposition penalty area as he has scored one and assisted in four others.

His form at Leicester has won him a call-up into the England senior set-up, he now has three caps and looks a cert to go to the World Cup next summer. At only £17m, purchasing Harry Maguire looks a brilliant piece of business from the Foxes.

 

Richarlison 

For much of the summer young Richarlison was linked with a move to Dutch giants Ajax but in the end Watford swooped in and purchased the talented Brazilian.

The twenty year old attacker had impressed at Fluminense and with Brazil’s under-20 side before making the move to Vicarage Road.

When your new signing gets linked with big clubs in the next window after you’ve just signed him, then you know he’s got something about him. Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs and Antonio Conte’s Chelsea have both been heavily linked with a move.

Hornets manager Marco Silva knows the skill-set his forward has and he clearly admires him:

“He’s a player with a lot of quality so it’s normal if everybody starts to pay attention to him.”

The youngster has plenty of pace and he’s very direct in his approach. The talented wide-man is also terrific in the air. Has also got used to the physical side of the English game without any fuss. Provides Watford with plenty of energy and has developed a good understanding with the club’s left-backs.

Silva likes to see his teams pressing opponents and Richarlison is a key component in doing that. Obviously he’s very good at going forward too and has created four assists and scoring five times.

Brought in for just £11m, it will be interesting to see how long he stays at Watford and what profit they make on his signature. One thing’s for sure, while the exciting forward remains at Vicarage Road he will be the star of the team!

Sead Kolasinac 

Bosnian international Sead Kolasinac has added some much needed strength and passion into the Arsenal team.

The twenty four year old is versatile enough to play in a few defensive and midfield positions, especially on the left side.

Has made around two successful tackles per game and two clearances also. Very strong on the ball and not scared to put his foot into a tackle when it’s needed. His strong structure often makes it hard for opponents to get passed him.

His full bloodied displays have already made him a cult hero with the Gunners support. Arsene Wenger has dropped Sead twice in the Premier League in this campaign and they haven’t won either tie, they were humiliated at Anfield and drew with relegation candidates West Ham United.

As well as being strong in the air, Kolasinac also has a keen eye for a key pass. The defensive minded player has two goals and four assists to him name this term.

Has the right attitude to prove himself at Arsenal and he didn’t cost them a penny!

Don’t Be Surprised That Lukaku Didn’t Celebrate His Man United Winner

Former England striker turned TV pundit Alan Shearer was surprised that Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku didn’t celebrate getting his side’s goal against AFC Bournemouth last night:

“Unless there is something we are unaware of, it was a very surprising lack of reaction from Lukaku to his goal,”

I’m not sure why the Match of the Day man was so surprised.

Both United and Lukaku have had a tough week. They lost the Manchester derby and the Belgian frontman missed chances and was possibly at fault for the two goals United conceded.

Romelu’s goalscoring form in the bigger games has also received criticism and the player himself can’t be happy with his goal return in the clashes that matter most.

Last night’s terrific header was only the twenty-four year old’s second Premier League goal since the end of September.

There’s no doubt that he’s put the effort in and his style and play has helped get more from those around him, he has four assists to his name so far this season but Jose Mourinho splashed out £75m on him for his finishing ability. He does have twelve goals in seventeen league appearances but he couldn’t find the net in the games against Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester City.

Being a prolific marksman as he is, no one would be more frustrated by his lack of strikes than Lukaku himself. Like all great goal-scorers, goal droughts are horrible spells that attack your confidence.

Personally I think the Belgian international was still thinking of the chances missed against City, when he struck against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth side. His goal against The Cherries is what’s meant to happen week in and week out, so there’s no need to celebrate.

I also think that the aftermath of the Manchester derby would have been playing on his mind too.

Reports suggest that Mourinho and his men were angry at what they perceived as over celebrating from their noisy neighbours. Lukaku’s name was heavily linked with the fracas too.

Maybe the United team, and in this case Romelu Lukaku, felt it would be a bit hypocritical to then go wild by scoring a goal in your very next game.

Listen, Manchester United and all their players would have been hurting after their loss to Man City. They will also be angry and the main focus would have been to get right back to winning ways.

They did that last night and now they need to keep focused on putting a winning run together and see what happens this season.

If Lukaku grabs a few in more important fixtures and doesn’t celebrate, then I’ll be surprised and worried about things at Old Trafford.

Celtic’s Moussa Dembele Could Be Man To Replace Sturridge At Liverpool

Reports suggest that Daniel Sturridge is ready to call time on his Liverpool career. The striker has only appeared nine times in the Premier League this term and he’s grabbed just two goals.

With the World Cup coming up next summer, you’d imagine that the England international will want to get more starts and goals under his belt. That might not happen at Anfield as Reds boss Jurgen Klopp seems to prefer Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino in the forward roles.

Philippe Coutinho has been pushed further forward at times this season and on Sunday it was Dominic Solanke who got the nod to start the Merseyside derby and even Danny Ings got a run out as Liverpool chased a win.

All in all, I think there are trust issues between Klopp and Sturridge. The German believes that Daniel’s injury issues are a big problem as he keeps picking up knocks. When that happens the manager then thinks he can’t rely on that player. The striker then feels unwanted or under-appreciated and his morale drops.

It probably makes sense for both parties to say goodbye and allow Sturridge to play elsewhere. Latest speculation has suggested he would welcome a chance to play abroad.

Let’s say that the twenty-eight year old does indeed leave Anfield in the next transfer window, that will leave a space in the squad and Klopp might feel he needs to fill it.

I also think Ings will be allowed to leave in the winter transfer window, so another forward for the run-in would be bolster team numbers and add extra competition for places.

One name that might cross Jurgen’s mind could be Celtic’s Moussa Dembele.

The young Frenchman has scored for fun in Scotland and he’s also impressed in the Champions League for the Hoops. His form has won him admirers all over Europe, with plenty of top club scouts taking in the action at Celtic Park.

Before his move to Celtic, Dembele was scoring regularly for Fulham in the English Championship as a teenage sensation and he’s since went on and represented France at Under-21 level. He’s bagged seven strikes in ten games for Les Bluets. 

At Celtic, his prolific run has seen him grab forty goals in sixty-five appearances, that includes six goals in Europe. This term he has suffered from injury woes but he’s still managed eight goals in sixteen outings.

Dembele is a striker who can play through the middle by himself but he can also link-up with any forward that plays around him. His pace and composed finishing ability will have impressed Jurgen Klopp as that’s what he likes in a forward.

The young hitman can score with either foot and always seems to be in the right place at the right time. He’s also very capable in the bigger games, his record against Rangers in derby games is extremely healthy.

I don’t think Dembele would be overawed by those forwards he’d play with at Anfield. He won’t see himself as an automatic starter but he’d bet on himself to take the chances if the fell his way.

Jurgen likes to rotate his forwards and Dembele might think this could be his chance to get a place in Didier Deschamps World Cup squad.

Fee? Well I think Celtic, who won’t need to sell, would talk if a bid of £25m or more is offered. Not bad value in this market.

The stumbling block could be Celtic willingness to do business and the player himself.

The Scottish champions have other goalscorers in Leigh Griffiths, Scott Sinclair and loanee Odsonne Edouard but I believe Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers thinks Moussa is the star-man who will give his side a better balance up-front.

Celtic still being in Europe after Christmas could mean that they are more reluctant to sell their prize asset. They might fancy a run in the Europa League and having an in-form Dembele would enhance their chances.

What about the players thoughts on a deal?

As I’ve previously mentioned, he might harbour ambitions to squeeze into the Les Bleus squad that heads to Russia in June. His chances will improve if he’s starring in the English Premier League rather than the Scottish Premiership.

Liverpool are a huge club and he might see the move to Anfield as too good to turn down. Working under Jurgen Klopp would be another possible incentive as the German gaffer does give young players a chance.

Kenny Dalglish famously made the move from Parkhead to Merseyside, so many will see the allure for Dembele if the opportunity arose.

With all that being said, Moussa Dembele doesn’t seem the type to rock the boat at Celtic. He seems happy in Glasgow and enjoys playing in-front of the Celtic faithful.

The youngster seems content to wait for the right time before leaving the Hoops, he knows that he has improved under Rodgers and that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

In the end, we will only find out his intentions if Liverpool or another club puts hard cash on the table for his services and then we will see how he and Celtic react!

Manchester City Already Have One Hand On The Premier League Crown

In the end the Manchester derby delivered in drama and entertainment and it was Premier League leaders Manchester City who triumphed over their rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.

City dominated possession, as you’d expect, but got the win with two scruffy goals through mistakes in the United’s backline. They weren’t beautiful strikes but they all count and Man City now have an eleven point lead at the top of the table.

Let’s not forget that Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all dropped points during the weekend too and that also proves the yesterday’s win could be a turning point.

Personally I think that is a lead that can’t be overturned this term.

City have played with a real swagger this season. Manager Pep Guardiola is getting more from his players and he’s turning a few of them into world stars.

In Ederson, Pep finally has that consistent sweeper keeper he was desperate for and the defence looks a lot happier with the Brazilian in between the sticks. His double save yesterday to prevent Romelu Lukaku and Juan Mata was splendid and it managed to get his the important win. The goalkeeper has been one of the best buys of the summer!

Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones have improved beyond recognition for last year. They have both repaid the manager’s faith in sticking with them.

Fernandinho is marshalling perfectly in-front of the City defence and that means there are less mistakes at the back.

Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling are playing out of their skins and the fluidity they bring from attacking wide areas is a joy to behold.

With David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, The Citizens possess two magnificent maestros who can unlock any opposition defence. They both bring guile, craft and skill and it’s lighting up the Etihad.

They’ve also got two lethal strikers in Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero, having not one but two prolific goalscorers is invaluable to a team challenging for the title.

The list is almost endless of the star power this City squad have in their ranks. The strength in depth is phenomenal. They can cover for pretty much any injury crisis and that’s why it is hard to see them losing this lead they have at the top.

Yesterday Pep stated:

“People said we couldn’t play the way we did in Barcelona in England,” 

“But it is possible and we did it.”

That must scare a few bosses and owners in England’s top flight because that Barca team dominated matches and silverware.

Every great championship winning team needs luck and even when they aren’t firing on all cylinders they somehow get the victories. Man City have even had that this term.

Supporters of other clubs might be harbouring hope of a collapse, similar to the one that happened at Newcastle United back in the 95/96 season.

For those that don’t know or remember, Kevin Keegan’s Magpies held a twelve point lead in mid January and ultimately threw it away, that allowed Sir Alex Ferguson’s side to overturn it and claim the Premier League trophy.

Like Guardiola’s side, Keegan possessed a swashbuckling team that were very attractive on the eye.

For me, there are a few differences between the two sides that will keep City from falling down the same traps.

Firstly, they have experience within the squad of winning trophies and the Premier League in particular. Those players with that valuable knowledge will help those that haven’t experienced such a title run in before.

Then you have the Pep factor. The man is a born winner and has won titles everywhere he has been. As I’ve already stated, he gets that little bit extra from his squad and he’ll make sure concentration levels don’t slip.

The truth of the matter is this; people are questioning if this Manchester City side will lose at all in the league this season. For a competitor to catch them they’ll need to win all their games and hope City lose at least three, maybe more, and draw quite a few too.

I just can’t see that happening!

Rangers Should Now Look At St Johnstone Boss Tommy Wright

If Rangers are still looking for a new manager within the Scottish Premiership then there’s really just one man that they can go for.

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes has turned down the chance to talk to the Ibrox club and let’s face it neither Brendan Rodgers or Neil Lennon would accept or be considered for the job.

The bookies and the media have suggested that Dundee’s Neil McCann could be a potential target. The Dundee gaffer has had an impressive start to his managerial career but he doesn’t have the experience to suggest he’s ready for the top job in Govan.

For me, the only realistic contender left in the Scottish game is St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright.

The fifty-four year old has consistently got more from his squad than people would have imagined. He brings a consistency and that has been lacking at Ibrox for the last year and a half.

In 20014, Wright famously guided The Saints to their first ever Scottish Cup triumph in 2014.

In the last three seasons St Johnstone have punched above their weight by finishing fourth in the league.

His 43% winning success rate with the McDiarmid Park outfit is very decent when you consider that’s over a four year period and over 200 games. They’ve also performed in the bigger games; picking up wins over Celtic, Rangers, Aberdeen and Hearts. The Saints were the first side to get a point off of Celtic this term.

Tommy clearly gets the most out of his players and that’s a quality every manager wants. It’s an attribute fellow countryman Brendan Rodgers also possesses. The Saints gaffer has even changed the fortunes of forward Michael O’Halloran, who returned to the McDiarmid Park on loan from Rangers and he’s impressed this season

There’s no doubt that McInnes and Steve Lomas provided great foundations for Tommy at Perth but I think everyone can agree that Wright and his squad have been playing above expectations and for a sustained period too.

After the left-field appointment of Pedro Caixinha, it looks as though The Gers now need a strong hand and one that knows the Scottish game. Wright would give them that.

The Northern Irishman has also proven at St Johnstone that he can handle working with a budget and that will appeal to the Rangers board. Another plus point is that he can get his players to work together as a well drilled unit, that is another thing the Light Blues have struggled with in recent times.

I’m surprised Tommy Wright has been overlooked for a few decent jobs now but that might burn a fire in his belly to prove himself when the opportunity finally arrives.

I know a lot of Rangers fans will want a bigger name or someone with a trophy laden CV to take on the managerial hot-seat but alas times have changed.

The most important thing for the Ibrox side at the moment is to find a new manager and one who will bring some consistency and discipline back to the club.

If they are to go for someone with extensive knowledge of the Scottish Premiership, then it looks likely that Tommy Wright is the right man for the job!

 

David Moyes Is Starting To Get Things Right At West Ham United

West Ham United fans didn’t really want David Moyes as the club’s new manager. Early disappointing performances against Watford and Everton did little to improve things.

Yet in the three other games since Moyes took charge of The Irons, improvements have been very visible.

Against Leicester City last month, West Ham’s players showed great desire and determination. Their hard work was rewarded as they managed to come from a goal behind to draw the game. That encounter also showed that Moyes seems to be able to get more effort from striker Andy Carroll.

While they lost last weekend to Premier League leaders Manchester City, they still impressed with their endeavour and defensive discipline. Many an English top flight side has watched on as Pep Guardiola’s City steamrollered over them, yet The Hammers didn’t lie down and accept the inevitable. In fact they took the lead and only a late David Silva strike gave the Citizen’s their victory.

In that loss to Man City, Adrian replaced Joe Hart in West Ham’s goal as Hart couldn’t play against his parent club. The Spaniard played a blinder and the defence seemed to be more confident with last season’s number one playing behind them in goal.

I personally thought his man of the match display meant he deserved to keep the gloves for the team’s game against champions Chelsea for today’s fixture. I wasn’t sure if Moyes would have the bottle to keep the high profile Hart out of the starting line-up, but fair play to the Scot he did omit Joe from the side.

I believe that is a crucial decision. The players in the squad need to know that no one is bigger than the team, that good performances will be rewarded and that the Hammers boss will make difficult decisions that will benefit the team as a whole.

In today’s encounter West Ham once again showed a disciplined attitude and that was key in them securing a famous victory at the London Stadium, Moyes’ first win as the Irons gaffer.

£24m summer signing Marko Arnautovic finished with a nice strike after just six minutes and from then on the Hammers looked decent and saw out the win in the derby game. They didn’t get overawed by the occasion and they didn’t allow Chelsea to get into any meaningful stride. 

The manager and his management team deserves praise for the way they’ve managed to get the back three and the midfield playing as a well worked unit. The attitude of the players has improved and that’s seen an improvement in results. They also seem to be fitter under Moyes.

Today, wingbacks Pablo Zabaleta and Arthur Masuaku had terrific games as they charged forward and tracked back diligently.

Today’s performance reminded me of a vintage Everton display from Davie Moyes time at Goodison. That’s the level that the fans will want to see on a weekly basis.

The first task for the new Irons boss was always to make his side hard to beat and get points on the table. That’s seems to be happening at the moment.

It’s funny but ever since the fifty-four year old took over at the London Stadium he’s continually made a point of praising the home support. He knows they’ve been very sceptical about his appointment but it looks like he’s slowly winning them over.

Again today he praised the home fans:

“The supporters showed they know West Ham are on their way back and they’re showing that the players are putting in the effort.”

Now Moyes needs to get more from his players in the matches against those teams that are in a similar position to themselves. It’s sometimes easier to play a better game against the bigger sides. The ones that really count are the ones against teams who are also desperate to stay clear of the relegation zone.

The Irons will also need to start to get points away from home.

Things have improved in recent weeks and that’s very encouraging for the team, their manager and the club’s support but they need to keep improving to make all that effort worthwhile.

Next up is another big home game against Arsenal but it’s the trip to Stoke after that that could be the real acid test in how much progress has been made since Moyes arrival.

Rangers Statement On Derek McInnes Saga Was Shambolic

People were laughing at Rangers when Aberdeen announced that Derek McInnes would be staying at Pittodrie.

I personally don’t think going after a manager and not getting him is embarrassing. It’s not great but that’s it happens, Derek made his decision, and that should be respected. You win some and you lose some, that’s football both on and off the pitch.

Rangers then released a statement putting over their own side of the story and let’s be quite frank the statement was completely and utterly shambolic.

Firstly they basically try and assassinate McInnes’ character:

The position of Rangers manager requires an ability to win football matches and the mentality to cope with the demanding off-pitch environment that goes with being the Rangers manager. This is a critical aspect of our assessment of any candidate during the interview process.

After the two games against Aberdeen, we requested permission to engage with their manager to assess his readiness and willingness to consider the Rangers position. This was declined. We were subsequently made aware by Aberdeen’s statement that, at this stage in his career, it would be best for him to remain in his current post. We endorse that position because moving to a massive club like Rangers is a big step with concomitant risk.

For me, that’s basically pointing to Derek’s poor results against Celtic and then saying he’s not ready for ‘a massive club like Rangers‘.

Now the biggest point here is that the Gers board clearly identified the Dons boss as the best candidate to approach. They  thought he was ready and capable when they contacted Aberdeen seeking their permission to speak to him.

I have to mention use of ‘concomitant’. I pretty sure it was a word that was googled plenty of times as fans of every Scottish football club tried to decipher it’s meaning. It even ended up trending on Twitter.

The chief statement writer at Ibrox loves showing off their intellect by thrusting such words into his or her writing. All it does, well apart from a bit of forced education, is make Rangers look like a laughing stock within the game. It gives other sets of supporters something to rib the Light Blues about. Demonstrated last night with the Aberdeen fans unfurling a banner which read ‘Concomitant You Reds’ during their Scottish Premiership game with Dundee.

The last paragraph of the statement will anger quite a few fans in the Ibrox stands:

In the meantime, we have great confidence in Graeme Murty, who will continue as interim manager at least until the end of the year. The manner in which he has approached this task is a credit to himself and the club.

That shows that the Rangers board really wanted McInnes and that they don’t have a Plan B.

Graeme Murty is a terrific man but he’s not ready to be the gaffer at Rangers Football Club. He did beat Aberdeen twice in a week but he has also lost to Hamilton and Dundee during his second stint as interim boss.

Why do the club need another month or so to come up with another name? Especially after sacking Pedro Caixinha back on the 26th of October. They’ve had plenty of time to identify a few possible replacements. In the meantime, Pedro is back in employment at Mexican club.

How many times does a sacked manager land a job before his previous employers fill his former position?

Former Gers players, pundits and journalists have come out slating the Rangers statement. It’s not easy to get so many in Scottish football but the vast majority of people seem to agree that it was horrendous.

On Twitter and forum boards, Rangers fans have been very vocal in their anger over the statement. They believe it’s made the club look like a sad joke. They believe that they support a club of significant class and that was lacking on Thursday night.

It makes Rangers look petty, bitter and pathetic. Scottish football sides need to learn when and when not to make statements.

All the statement writer at Ibrox has done is make the Gers board look bad and they can ill afford any more embarrassing situations that has the faithful questioning their competence.

Man United’s Fellaini Could Be Mourinho’s Secret Weapon On Derby Day

With key midfielder Paul Pogba missing through suspension for this weekend’s up and coming Manchester derby, Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho will have to find a suitable replacement.

It looks to be a toss up between Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera.

Both central midfield stars have their plus points but I believe the big Belgian will be the one that gets the nod from his manager.

It’s true that Herrera gets around the field and that he makes more tackles than his counterpart. He also shone against Chelsea last term and did a terrific job marking Eden Hazard out of the game back in April.

But this season United have Nemanja Matic and the Serbian international will be on hand to do a lot of the defensive duties against Manchester City this Sunday. It looks as though David Silva is struggling with an injury and if he misses out then the need for another constant tackler won’t be as immediate in the engine room.

So why do I believe that Fellaini could be the man to take the start berth on derby day? 

Well it could all be about height and strength.

Pep Guardiola’s Man City side have been phenomenal this season. They’ve not lost a Premier League game so far this term and pundits are suggesting the free-scoring Sky Blues may go the full season unbeaten in the English top flight.

One possible weak-link for the Citizens could be their lack of aerial power. It was certainly an issue when they lost the opening goal in their win over West Ham last weekend. They also conceded a sloppy goal at a corner against Huddersfield last month.

We all know that 6ft 4in Fellaini is terrific in the air. His leap and commanding presence helps his side all over the park. Defensively he wins headers in his own box and clears away danger. In the opponents penalty air he wins headers and those can end up at the striker’s feet or in the back of the net. While in the middle of the park he can win flick-ons that help start attacks for his side and keeps the ball away from his team’s defensive line.

The Belgian international has won on average 3.2 headers per competitive game during this campaign. Only Romelu Lukaku and centre back Chris Smalling have better league aerial battle stats this season for Old Trafford side. No Man City player has won more duels in the air than Marouane this year.

It should also be noted that the experienced midfielder is handy in the tackle and he’s quite tidy with the ball at his feet also. He also has the strength needed to bully opponents. United have won 89% of games with Fellaini in the starting line up and they also statistically seem to score more goals too.

We all know that Jose Mourinho is partial to using more defensive tactics against the top sides in the Premier League. He doesn’t care how he gets his points as long as he does. If that means going more direct or route one against Pep’s team then so be it. The Red Devils boss will believe that set-pieces could be vital in securing a victory against his rivals and the Portuguese manager will know that Fellaini will offer great hope in those positions.

It might be seen as a blessing in disguise that Pogba misses out this clash. The French star has been in great form and looks superb going forward but he’s yet to dominate in the biggest of clashes and he isn’t as defensively disciplined as a Fellaini or a Herrera.

Jose trusts Marouane and that’s another huge plus for the tall Belgian. Last month the United gaffer had this to say about his midfielder battler:

“I have to say that Fellaini was fantastic for me, his fellow players, for the fans, for the team, for the club. He was injured for weeks, he trained yesterday for the first time with the team and he put himself on the line, ready to come in and help in case the team needed him. So I am really pleased with him and I didn’t want to go without saying that about Marouane.”

It will be interesting to see what line-up Mourinho decides on for the derby game. I really believe he’ll include Marouane Fellaini and I think he’ll believe that the thirty year old could make all the difference as Man Utd look to close the gap between themselves and their noisy neighbours!

Rangers Hiring Derek McInnes: The Pros And Cons

It’s looking increasingly likely that Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes will become the new Rangers boss.

Dons Chairman Stewart Milne has so far refused the Ibrox club permission to speak to his gaffer but with McInnes not taking first team training for the past few days and also not holding the club’s pre-match press conference today, it’s looking like his position at Pittodrie is fast becoming untenable.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to list a few pros and cons on why McInnes to Rangers makes sense or why it might not.

PROS

  • Derek knows the Scottish game very well and has established his Dons side as the second best in the Scottish Premiership. A criticism of former Gers manager Pedro Caixinha was that the Portuguese boss thought Scottish football would adapt to his style, ultimately that ignorance and stubbornness cost him his job. The strong knowledge of our game will help McInnes set his team up properly, change them for certain games/occasions and gives him a chance to pick up bargains from the Scottish transfer market.
  • His use of Scottish talent should be great news for those at Murray Park. More and more youngsters seem to be getting a chance in the Gers first team, that will hopefully continue if Derek is announced as the new Gers manager.
  • The jobs that he has done at Aberdeen and at St Johnstone has left both clubs with very strong foundations.
  • By leaving a cushy gig up in Aberdeen, McInnes would be proving that he wants to do more and believes he can do that at Ibrox. Rangers need someone with ambition and a determination to prove himself.
  • He’s a ‘Rangers man’. That’s a big tick in a lot of people’s boxes in the Ibrox stands. The fans want someone that knows the club and Derek obviously played for the team as a player. His links to the nine in a row era and to Dick Advocaat’s years of dominating the top flight will stand him in good stead. There’s plenty of footage and images online of the midfielder celebrating success during his playing days in Govan.
  • The manager has been consistent at Aberdeen. He has led them to a third place finish in the league and then three consecutive second place finishes . In 2016, he managed to run Celtic relatively close in the title race before the Hoops secured the title with a couple of games to spare. He won the League Cup as Dons boss in 2014 and last term he watched as Celtic beat his side in both domestic cup finals.
  • The forty-six year old has worked with a tight(ish) budget up north. He won’t get a huge amount to spend at Rangers but it should still be a step up from what he’s used to. If he can continue to get value for money in the transfer market, then the Gers board will be extremely happy.

CONS

  • While his knowledge of the Scottish scene is extensive and he has a fairly decent contact book down south, has he got the name and ability to find gems from abroad and persuade those gems to come to Glasgow? That was an issue Rangers had with former gaffer Mark Warburton. Hopefully the new scouting team can help him on that front.
  •  His record against Celtic, especially since Brendan Rodgers took over at Parkhead, isn’t the best. Rangers need to keep improving on their results against the better teams in Scotland’s top tier. Some might believe Rodgers already has McInnes number, but can Derek change that with different personnel?
  • For some of the supporters, the appointment of Derek McInnes will be viewed as not good enough. Many wanted a big name and one with plenty of winning pedigree, McInnes won’t represent that to many of them.
  •  As a manager he has had mixed results in Europe. To be fair, most Scottish sides have been woeful in Europe but many were hoping for progression under McInnes at Aberdeen but he keeps coming up short.
  • He was sacked at Bristol City. They were bottom of the Championship at the time. They seemed to be in decline and he did manage them to safety in the previous campaign but his stint down south will still raise a few eyebrows.
  • His solo cup success was great at the time but it was meant to signify more and that simply hasn’t happened. Many might let him off, when you consider how dominant Celtic were last term.

At the end of the day, every managerial appointment in football comes with a risk. We will just need to wait and see if Derek McInnes gets the job (it looks very likely), then see what he does and judge him thereafter.

Theo Walcott Would Add Much Needed Pace Into Everton’s Attack

The time might be right for Theo Walcott to leave Arsenal and try his luck elsewhere.

The forward has plenty of pace and has been known to get a few valuable goals for the Gunners during his time at the Emirates but it would be wrong to say that he’s reached his full potential at the London club.

This term the twenty-eight year old has only made three substitute appearances in the Premier League. He’s made six starts in the cup competitions (League Cup & Europa League) and he has a three goal return in those games.

Unfortunately for the Englishman he seems to be behind Alexandre Lacazette, Oliver Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez in the pecking order to start in the advanced areas. Walcott wasn’t even in the squad that was picked to face Manchester United in the weekend.

It’s now being reported that Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is willing to let Walcott go, as long as a fee can be agreed with another club. The media have suggested that both West Ham United and Southampton could be interested in Theo’s signature.

Everton have also been linked with the striker and I’d say a move to the Merseyside club could be Walcott’s best destination.

Sam Allardyce has just arrived at Goodison Park and already things have improved for the Toffees.

The new manager has stated that one of his first main tasks is to replace the goals that Everton have missed since selling hitman Romelu Lukaku to Man United for £75m in the summer.

One major thing missing in the Toffees front-line this term has been pace.

Youngster Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been moved from the wing to give the side more speed in attack but I’m not sure he can carry the pressure of grabbing the majority of the club’s goals when they need to steer clear of relegation troubles this term.

People have suggested that the Toffees could recall summer buy Henry Onyekuru from his loan spell at Anderlecht. In the Champions League, Henry has been used more as a left winger, so again I doubt Allardyce would want to bring him in at this stage and use him as his main striking threat. Yes he is scoring in the Jupiler League but not in Europe and that suggests he’s better off staying in Belgium for the rest of the campaign.

In signing Walcott, Big Sam would be getting an experienced Premier League footballer. The forward has made more than 200 top flight appearances and scoring over sixty goals. He’d arrived determined to prove himself and show everyone that he’s an attacker who can score regularly as long as he plays.

The former Southampton man has also picked up forty-seven international caps, scoring eight goals. He has also bagged himself three FA Cup winners medals during his spell in the nation’s capital.

It should be noted that Sam recalled Theo into the England set-up for the one and only game Allardyce was in charge of the Three Lions. When he needed a goal, it was Walcott who he turned to and the lively frontman helped as England ended up with the victory.

Why Everton and not the other two sides? 

Well I think momentum at Everton has changed for the better, the same can’t be said at West Ham under David Moyes (Not yet anyway). Things seem a bit stale at Southampton and it’s not always great to go back to a former club.

The Toffees will probably offer both Arsenal and the player a better deal financially. They spent big in the summer and they will probably do the same under Big Sam.

Plus in Allardyce, Walcott already knows that particular manager appreciates his style. Look at the way the Everton boss got the best out of Jermain Defoe at Sunderland, he could possibly do the same with Theo if he ended up at Goodison.

The Merseyside Blues also need a pacy centre forward, with Wayne Rooney or/and Gylfi Sigurdsson playing in behind them. I can see Theo Walcott flourishing in the role, getting on the end of through balls and sticking away chances. His electrifying speed would also give Everton an added edge in counter attack situations.

It’s time the twenty-eight year old stood up and stated his intentions to play through the middle as a striker. He has the qualities to do well in the role and he now needs to get away from North London and prove himself.

If he joins The Toffees and gets amongst the goals then he’ll give current England boss Gareth Southgate food for thought ahead of next summer’s World Cup. I doubt he’ll get that chance under Wenger at Arsenal… So why stay?